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My Lyman 43 Edition shows 2.066 from the front of the rim to the mouth.
Lyman no. 40 lists case length as 2.129 but no mention how it is measured.
As long as the chamber will allow the mouth to release the you should be good.
 

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The two case sizes are for two different rifles, no other reason. The "original" cartridge guns used the 2.129 case, then Winchester came out with their Model 375 Rifle and it used a shorter 2.055 casing. Perhaps for the magazine tube length? I'm not sure why they did it but there is your answer.
 

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The .38-55 is originally a Ballard single shot cartridge. If you have an original Ballard or Marlin Ballard single shot it uses the long brass.
Winchester lever action model 38-55s and other modern rifles use the short case. This about rifles marked 38-55.
The 38-55 uses bullets from .377 to .382 and is considered a true .38 caliber.


The .375 Winchester is a completely different cartridge and is not considered a 38 at all.
The .375 Win uses .375 bullets
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The .38-55 is originally a Ballard single shot cartridge. If you have an original Ballard or Marlin Ballard single shot it uses the long brass.
Winchester lever action model 38-55s and other modern rifles use the short case. This about rifles marked 38-55.
The 38-55 uses bullets from .377 to .382 and is considered a true .38 caliber.

Thank you. I have a Winchester 38-55 lever from my uncle I plan to shoot. Just would like to know more about it before reloading.
 

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Progun
I know a good bit about the 38-55. I have a single shot that I load for. It is an odd round due to some things related to its age and poor design.

1. The groove diameter vary a LOT. They may be anywhere from .377 to .382. This makes it important to slug the bore and find the groove diameter. Then you pick the right bullet for your barrel.

2. When the bore is .380 or larger sometimes the chamber is too small to accept a case with the larger bullet leading to fun and games.

3. If you can buy only Starline brass in the short length. Starline brass is thinner and will chamber with the fatter bullets.

4. There are very few to no .377 jacketed bullets. There are a lot of cast bullets available online in .377, .379 and .380 diameters.

5 Track of the Wolf will sell you individual cases if you want to check before buying.
If you need sample bullets I think I have both .377 and .380s. I am not sure if I have .379s. You should slug the barrel with a soft lead fishing weight and check it.

The .38-55 is originally a Ballard single shot cartridge. If you have an original Ballard or Marlin Ballard single shot it uses the long brass.
Winchester lever action model 38-55s and other modern rifles use the short case. This about rifles marked 38-55.
The 38-55 uses bullets from .377 to .382 and is considered a true .38 caliber.

Thank you. I have a Winchester 38-55 lever from my uncle I plan to shoot. Just would like to know more about it before reloading.
 

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I shot the 38/55 for many years for BPMCS shooting and the cartridge did very well out to 500 yards. It still had enough oomph to knock over the heavy Ram target.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Progun
I know a good bit about the 38-55. I have a single shot that I load for. It is an odd round due to some things related to its age and poor design.

1. The groove diameter vary a LOT. They may be anywhere from .377 to .382. This makes it important to slug the bore and find the groove diameter. Then you pick the right bullet for your barrel.

2. When the bore is .380 or larger sometimes the chamber is too small to accept a case with the larger bullet leading to fun and games.

3. If you can buy only Starline brass in the short length. Starline brass is thinner and will chamber with the fatter bullets.

4. There are very few to no .377 jacketed bullets. There are a lot of cast bullets available online in .377, .379 and .380 diameters.

5 Track of the Wolf will sell you individual cases if you want to check before buying.
If you need sample bullets I think I have both .377 and .380s. I am not sure if I have .379s. You should slug the barrel with a soft lead fishing weight and check it.

I appreciate that. I'm going to receive the rifle this weekend. I'll slug it before long and report here what I find. Thank you for the info and tips.
 

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I have a '94 "trails end" model in 38-55. It slugs exactly at .380. When I first got it starline was not available and I had to turn the winchester brass to get .380 bullets to seat. Starline fixed this problem.

You should also know that lyman has added a new mold, #380681 which is basically the old 375248 enlarged to fit the 38-55's that have bores over .377. They also seem to be offering a H&I sizer in .380, which was custom order before. / Dan
 

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Dan
My .38-55 is a lowly Harrington & Wesson (H&R) that has a groove diameter of .380. The land dia is exactly .375 and is very uniform because I pushed a Hornady 270 grain .375 bullet through it. It took about 25 lbs force to push the jacketed bullet though. This gives a .0025 deep groove depth. The chamber measures .394 at the case mouth and I cannot load .381 bullets in WW brass. From a magazine article (and other shooters) I found that I could size a loaded round slightly in the 38-55 FL die and make it chamber. It would then fire normally. Another shooter gave me a large lot of 30-30 cases blown out straight. These shorter and thinner cases allow chambering .381 bullets.
After Starline's nice customer service lady sent me 2 Starline cases I found the brass was thin enough I could load .381 cast bullets with no monkey business.

I have a '94 "trails end" model in 38-55. It slugs exactly at .380. When I first got it starline was not available and I had to turn the winchester brass to get .380 bullets to seat. Starline fixed this problem.

You should also know that lyman has added a new mold, #380681 which is basically the old 375248 enlarged to fit the 38-55's that have bores over .377. They also seem to be offering a H&I sizer in .380, which was custom order before. / Dan
 

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I had the same problem with the winchester brass. Only fix was to turn the necks, which is a pain. I could have run them through the sizer minus the decapper, but then you run the risk of squeezing a cast bullet undersize and leading the barrel.

As goofy as it sounds,I love challenging cartridges to reload. Once I get it all figured out ( and spend lots of $ doing it) I feel like I've accomplished something...
 

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I had the same problem with the winchester brass. Only fix was to turn the necks, which is a pain. I could have run them through the sizer minus the decapper, but then you run the risk of squeezing a cast bullet undersize and leading the barrel.

As goofy as it sounds,I love challenging cartridges to reload. Once I get it all figured out ( and spend lots of $ doing it) I feel like I've accomplished something...

I am the same way about challenging reloading. I always learn something that is useful down the road.
I experimented with neck turning .30-30 brass that had been blown out. I found that the step was so large the brass might crack later and I did not really want to mess up a batch of hard to find and afford .38-55 brass.
One of these days I will take the challenge out of the 38-55 and buy one with a properly designed bore and chamber combination.
 

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Even my winchester 94 has a tight chamber, and it was man. sometime around 2005. I can't figure out why, unless they cut them to the original drawings from the late 1800's, and I would suspect that original 38-55's had thin case walls similiar to the 32-20, but who knows?
 

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Dan
If you have time to find a copy of the right SAAMI Specification Z299.4 with both cartridge and chamber drawings you will find that the
drawings permit the wonky small chamber and large groove diameter to exist. That is the current standard.

In my .38-55 drawing:
The groove diameter is given as .379 +.002 -.000 (.380 is the nominal groove dia)
The minimum chamber diameter is .3934 at the mouth of the chamber.
The bullet diameter is .377 +.000 -.003.
Worst case with a .381 groove dia you need a .382 bullet. .3934 chamber -.382 bullet = .0114 .0114/2 = .0057 case wall thickness
Result - poorly designed chamber , bullet and bore combination.
How is a .374 bullet supposed to work in a .381 groove diameter barrel????
In my H&W the bore diam is .375. A .374 bullet would never hit anything.

Why SAAMI does not correct the drawing I don't know. They are not the only one with errors like that. I have found goofy errors in the CIP drawing for the 7.62X39.



Even my winchester 94 has a tight chamber, and it was man. sometime around 2005. I can't figure out why, unless they cut them to the original drawings from the late 1800's, and I would suspect that original 38-55's had thin case walls similiar to the 32-20, but who knows?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hello all,
My slugging resulted in a .375 land measurement. Barnes has .375 and .377 jacketed bullets? Anyone have experience with either in a similarily measured bore with accurate results for a particular one? I'm sure it's not the same for all but wanted to see if I need to actually buy both? Another option is lead of course. Is the .002 over sized preferred in your opinion? Thank you.
 

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It is easy to goof up slugging a rifle bore. You might repeat it 3 or 4 times.

You said your land diameter is .375. Do you mean that was the groove diameter? The land diameter would be the same as the bore - which is the hole drilled before rifling. Only a modern rifle made by a gunsmith would have a .375 groove diameter.

With cast bullets they are normally used .001 to .002 larger than the groove diameter.
Jacketed bullets are normally .001 under to right on the groove diameter. European military designs often use bullets .002 to .003 under size.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It is easy to goof up slugging a rifle bore. You might repeat it 3 or 4 times.

I'm going to try it a few more times. I'm waiting for some empty fired brass to make slugs with. I saw a good YouTube video explaining that.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuNoo4m6jso
I used sinkers but had to shave off some material because it was too wide. I'm sure I measured on the flat. I'll try a few more times to get an average and try to measure on the rifling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update. The brass arrived. I tried to make slugs using the spent cases but they were to narrow to use. I then remembered seeing threads about using 30-30 brass to make 38-55 brass and decided to try a few. So I used my pipe cutter on two cases. I found one to be too narrow as well but the other large enough to make suitable slugs with melted fishing sinkers. The result of measuring several used slugs came to .377 at the groove.
 

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From your slugs, can you measure the diameter of the chamber end right at the case mouth?

It sounds like you might be able to load a .377 to .379 bullet.
 

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Hello all,
I am looking for reloading components for a Winchester '94 in 38-55. I saw that Starline has brass in both 2.082" and 2.125". Is there a preference or how to tell which is best? Thank you.
Your best bet is to do a chamber cast with cerrosafe or sulphur to determine your chamber dimensions before ordering brass. The original chambers were 2.125" nominal length but in the '40s chamber depth was shortened to use a common length basic case the same length as the 30-30.

If your chamber neck is incompatible with your groove dimension, it is a "fairly simple" matter to have a competent gunsmith open it up. You will also need your sizing die honed to match and a bullet mold that casts .002-.003 over the groove diameter. Hard gas checked bullets about 165 grains or soft lead plain based bullets about 330 grains both work well but require different approaches to loading.
 
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